Your Recovery Journal.
During treatment and recovery we are asked to process a tremendous amount of information. The science of addiction, the 12 steps, emotional management therapies of a various kinds—all of this can be difficult to sort through and manage. In addiction, the flood of feelings and ideas that come with our first steps in recovery are often overwhelming.
Just consider that we have been numbing ourselves with drugs and/or alcohol for however long we had been using. For some people this may have been decades of shutting off their ability to properly feel their feelings and to properly understand the world around them. One of the best methods for dealing with all of this is a recovery journal.
For many, the idea of sitting with an open and blank notebook and writing down their own thoughts and feelings is an utterly foreign practice. People will often balk at the idea by claiming they have nothing to say. The fact is, it is impossible to have nothing to say. What hangs up the newcomer to journaling is the belief that they do not have the “correct” things to say. Keeping a recovery journal means writing down your own thoughts for yourself and no one else. There are no rules. No one will grade your grammar or spelling. And no one will ever see it, therefore no one will ever judge you by what you write.
Enter Your Thoughts.
Getting your thoughts on paper allows you to see for yourself what is going through your mind. Recovery nearly always consists of a flood of conflicting emotions and thoughts. It is a natural tendency to try to work these thoughts and feelings out into a coherent whole before saying them or writing them. This is exactly what a journal does for you. With a journal, we can write down the thoughts as they occur to us without trying to make sense of them. We can confess to the journal those feelings which we find difficult to admit even to ourselves. Once these thoughts and ideas are in front of us we can begin to sort through them.
We can look at our own ideas in front of us and begin to see that some of them are a function of fears which are irrational, for example. We can begin to see on the page evidence of the things that matter most to us. For example, one may believe that their career goals were always first on their list of priorities. But up entry into recovery and experiencing a clearer sober version of themselves, the writings in a personal journal may show that family attachments are much more important. They can then begin the process of working with a sponsor and with a treatment counselor with this revelation in mind.
Without getting into a digression on research, it has been shown that journaling is a tremendously effective tool for recovery and for other forms of personal growth. The main thing to keep in mind is that the personal journal is for you. It is private, just like every other aspect of treatment and recovery, and the only person who ever has to see it is you. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable a personal journal can be in the recovery process.
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